Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Redo Your Rental: East Village Vintage

While some people claim to have a fairy god mother, can you imagine having a magical, decorating uncle?

That's how you might describe Kevin H. Beer, an artist, an antiques dealer and a decorator who flew cross-country from Los Angeles to whip together the New York City East Village apartment of his niece, Taryn, an ICU nurse, who just married Jay, a medical doctor. Known for his clever style and his penchant for uncovering vintage treasures that add warmth and charm to an environment, Kevin, who is also the proprietor of Hollywood Forever, Kevin, pretty much decorated this generously sized one-bedroom, railroad rental in little more than a weekend and several trips to flea markets and thrift stores.

Before Uncle Kevin's arrival, the busy couple had the apartment professionally painted. Even so, one of the first things he noticed upon arrival was the lack of brightness in the space. "Jay and Taryn just got married, so I wanted to make the place fun and not to serious," he says.

The morning after arriving, taking measurements and arranging furniture, Kevin and Taryn, armed with a $500 gift certificate, hit Crate and Barrel, to buy everything they could find in the color yellow. The living room, dedicated to the maps of the world, already had an unexpected pop of purple with its previously purchased modern Crate and Barrel sofa, and the framed piece above it portraying the rock strata of England plays into the established theme.

The exotic trunk purchased from ABC Home reminded Jay of one he saw on his travels to Nepal, a theme repeated throughout. "Jay had the opportunity to go with a couple of other doctors to the Everest base camp a couple of years ago and came back with some beautiful mementos." Above the television hangs a metal sculpture discovered by Kevin at Junk in Brooklyn.

The exotic Cyprus root lamp and the demure chest it rests upon also came from Junk.

A duo of paint-by-number geishas, again from Junk, greets guests as they enter this happy and cheery apartment.
A memory wall in the hallway combines framed prints and tacked up photos add texture and personality. " The photos in the hallway are some that I've stolen from family members over the years," Taryn says. "They keep me connected to my loved ones who feel too far away sometimes. The embroidered map of the state flowers -- banished from the map room for not being serious enough -- I bought at the Brooklyn Flea market."

Uncle Kevin found the four Picasso plate prints for $50 at the Antiques Garage in New York, hung them on the wall in the kitchen and illuminated them with Chinese lanterns from Pearl River in SoHo. "Pearl River is awesome," Taryn says. "I wanted the tattered old ones hanging on display and the ladies who were working that day could not understand why I would want something so beat up. It was hilarious. I think they turned out well."

The relaxing bedroom repeats the purple in the living room sofa, carrying the color story from end to end. The Austin native bought the dresser when she shared a West Greenwich Village apartment with a girlfriend. "They have a little swap met on Greenwich Avenue in a school parking lot that had such good prices for the area," she says. "I can't tell you how many things we lugged back to our sixth floor walk-up."

An inexpensive wall hanging from Pearl River covers an unattractive fuse box in the entry area.

A joyful, yellow lamp from the East Village's Lancelotti Housewares rests on a sturdy, $200 dining room table from Cure Thrift Shop.

When her former roommate in the West Village tired of not having a full-length mirror, they found a clever option in an armoire door that cost about $30 at Housing Works. The mirror was placed to reflect the vivid yellow piece of lighting on the opposite wall.

With a mixture of old and new, and creative insight and practical know-how from Uncle Kevin, what was once a typical, boring rental has been transformed into a whimsical and wonderful love nest for a sweet pair of newlyweds.

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous!

The Elegant Thrfiter


  1. i love my uncles dearly, but none have ever descended on my living space and breathed new life into it quite like this! i've already falled head over heels for kevin's blog so this doesn't surprise me one bit. happy tuesday you elegant thrifter you! xoxo

  2. Charming, with a sense of humor and clever combinations make a great first home for this newlywed couple. I love the Geisha elements and the bright yellow used in the space.

    I am currently decorating our farmhouse in the country with found and thrift shop goods. It's so challenging and thrilling to find the next perfect something to add to the mix.

    Now, I'm off to browse Kevin's blog....Hugs - Julie

  3. Elizabeth Lemery JoyAugust 11, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    I met Uncle Kevin at the wedding. He is wonderful and fabulous. Congratulations to Jay and Taryn! Taryn is right. Everyone should have an Uncle Kevin :)

  4. Dear Stan, Thank you for the wonderful, creative, fabulous, informative article on this project. This means so much to the families of both Jay and Taryn and sincerely to me. Despite the hard work and the short time we had to do the project it never felt like work. One of the main reasons is, we met you. Yours truly, The Fairy God Uncle

  5. I just came over via Hollywood forever, Kevin to see more of his niece's NY Apt.
    Your photos are great. Everything looks amazing. I love the old wooden shoe rack. Great mix of fab finds.



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